Today I’m going to show you how to make a very popular Korean dish, Jjim dak. You will be able to find Jjim dak restaurants all around Korea, in the city as well as in the more suburban areas. Bongchu Jjim dak 봉추찜닭 and Andong Jjimdak 안동찜닭 are two very famous jjim dak franchises in Korea.
Jjim 찜 means “steamed” and dak 닭 means “chicken.” In Korean cooking, steaming doesn’t necessarily mean only using hot steam to cook something. It can also mean making a kind of stew, cooking ingredients in a shallow pool of water with various seasonings mixed in. Jjim dak uses this sort of technique; the chicken is braised in a soy-sauce based sauce. Jjim dak can be made mild or spicy, but most of the time it will be served spicy in restaurants. If you order Jjim dak at a restaurant, you will be faced with a HUGE plate (literally the size of the table) filled with chicken, a few vegetables, and lots of glass noodles all swimming in a caramel colored broth that looks deceivingly sweet and mild, but is in fact pretty fiery. Today I’m going to be making a spicy version of jjim dak!
First let’s prepare the chicken! My recipe uses one whole chicken (pre-cut chicken can be found in all supermarkets) and can feed 4-5 people depending on how hungry you are.
Prepare a large pot, fill with water and while you wait for it to boil, lightly wash your chicken pieces.
When the water comes to a boil, add a dash of Korean liquor, soju. Add your chicken pieces and boil for about 3-5 minutes, until the pink meat becomes white and you can see oil/fat/blechness float to the top of the water. Pre-boiling the chicken helps to get rid of any excess fat, oil, blood and the soju helps get rid of any unwanted smells as well as tenderizing the meat. But it’s important not to completely cook the chicken, or else all the yummy juices will run out and the meat will become tough. Reserve your chicken until later use.
Now for the sauce!
Imagine that the bottom half of this picture isn’t yellow. De-seed and finely chop three spicy cheongyang peppers and also finely chop two large cloves of garlic. I chopped only three peppers at first, but found that the broth wasn’t spicy enough so I added dried chilies also. For a spicier dish, use about five. Cheongyang peppers are extremely hot, so be careful when/after chopping them! Add them into a bowl.
At first I used about 1/2 cup of dark soy sauce (jin gan-jang) but found that the dish needed a little more. So I would recommend using 3/4 cup of soy sauce. The strength of the sauce depends on the size of your chicken pieces as well. You can always adjust while cooking, so no worries!
Add one packed tablespoon of brown sugar to give the chicken a little bit of sweetness, but also a nice caramel color.
Add two teaspoons of balloon flower syrup, or doraji jo-chung (I’ve used this a couple times in my other recipes). Like I always say, if you don’t have any jo-chung, you can use honey or other grain syrups.
Add one tablespoon of any light, sweet alcohol like sake (I used cheong-ha).
Add one tablespoon of mirin or mihyang. You can omit this step if you can’t find both, but using it enhances the flavor of the broth and also acts as a meat tenderizer.
Now for the other miscellaneous ingredients!
Root vegetables work wonderfully in this recipe; they really soak up the broth and become deliciously tender. I used one large potato, two small sweet potatoes, and one large onion. Cut one long green onion at an angle.
Now let’s assemble the ingredients in a pot!
Lay out your potato and sweet potater slices on the base of a wide, deep pot.
Sprinkle the onion slices on top.
Add about 5-6 cups of water, until the chicken pieces are half immersed in the water. Add your pre-made sauce and turn the heat on high.
When everything comes to a rolling boil, crank the heat down to low and add dried chilies. I didn’t know that the dried chilies I used were so mild, so I was afraid and only used five. If I could go back in time I probably would have used about 10-15. If you don’t have dried chilies, mince more hot green/red peppers when making your sauce.
After simmering for about 10 minutes, I decided to put in a handful of sliced rice cakes in the mix. Why not?
Simmer for a few more minutes until the rice cakes start becoming tender and add the long green onion pieces.
You can choose to put glass/vermicelli noodles into the dish or not, but I highly recommend it. Usually, the thicker variety of glass noodles are used in this dish but I only had thin noodles. Before putting them into the pot, soak them for about thirty minutes in warm water. I would soak them before preparing all of the ingredients for the dish. This really looks like a lot of noodles, but they immediately soak up the broth and settle down under the chicken. Simmer until the noodles soak up the broth, and you’re finished!
Tah-dah!!! I finished everything off with a dash of ground sesame seeds. It might not look spicy, but oh man after a while it starts burning your mouth- in a good way. What’s great about using sweet potatoes in the recipe is that the sweetness of the sweet potaters balances out the spiciness. Enjoy with a fresh bowl of rice.
Go ahead, have a bite!
Until next time 🙂